The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP-Liberia), over the year, has worked with six Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in contributing to the achievement of outcome-3 of the Spotlight Initiative, being implemented by UN Women.
WANEP is a Regional Peacebuilding institution with its Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET Program serving as one of the strongest women human rights and gender advocacy in Liberia, with a specific focus on women empowerment for national leadership, and speaking against gender-based violence, including rape.
The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women, including harmful social norms and practices.
WANEP-Liberia being one of the implementing partners of the UN Women Spotlight Initiative is currently partnering with the Ministries of Internal Affairs (MIA), Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) and the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia (NACCEL). Over the year, it has tried to eliminate harmful traditional practices through inclusive participation, awareness against the negative effects, and community-driven solutions at the national, county, community, household, and individual levels.
The institution in collaboration with traditional leaders were able to conduct an inventory of traditional practitioners (zoes) to inform transformative interventions such as alternative livelihood options and knowledge to transform harmful practices and material support to the National Council of Chiefs and Elders Liberia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The exercise recorded at least 1,326 female zoes and traditional practitioners from over 475 sande groves (bush schools) from 11 of the 15 counties of Liberia.
At least 20,890 community dwellers (7,083 women, 5,249 men, 4,848 girls & 3,710 boys) directly reached with public information 1,365 beneficiaries (1,005 women, 360 men) reached by campaigns challenging harmful social norms and gender stereotyping, sensitizing communities on existing laws and policies on SGBV, HPs and SRHRs and access to legal redress for survivors, with specificinformation on laws and policies on SGBV, VAW, HPs, SRHRS, COVID19 safety protocol using NPHIL approved messages through one on one engagements and radio outreaches. Awareness activities were carry out through dialogue meetings, one on one methods and radio outreach with emphasis on the utilization of the referral path way in responding to GBV cases.
WANEP-Liberia also created regular awareness amongst religious, traditional, and community leaders extending to community members(men, women, boys, and girls), youth groups, and male networks (HeForShe) for social behavior change to address VAW, SGBV, HPs SRHRs (Please indicate their meanings) and acceptance of marginalized groups including LGBTIQs, persons living with HIV/Aids, and persons living with disability to transform social norms, attitudes and behaviors.
An inclusive community based participatory approaches and tailored capacity building support was designed including Trainers of Trainees (TOT) for partners, CSO, religious and traditional leaders, youth groups, Male Networks community gatekeepers/rape observatory and other vulnerable groups to act as change agents in enhancing social behavioral change.
Those key beneficiaries of the WANEP-Liberia’s Spotlight project include female zoes and traditional practitioners; religious and traditional leaders; youth groups and male networks; community gatekeepers/rape observatory and other vulnerable groups skills were enhanced and are now serving as change agents in enhancing social behavioral change to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, harmful practices and sexual reproductive health rights in more than 250 communities in Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount, Nimba, Lofa and Grand Gedeh Counties.
WANEP-Liberia Supported the hosting of a national consultative dialogue in Ganta, Nimba county with 112 key traditional leaders representing the 5 Spotlight Initiative Counties, including 10 other Counties of Liberia, which resulted in the unanimous approval of the 7- Count Policy Statement suspending the operation of all Sande Society (Bush School) in Liberia for a period of one year.
The agreement of the suspension of Sande Society, according to WANEP-Liberia was approved by the National Chairman, Zanzan Karwor of the NACCEL and the Minister of Internal Affairs that led to documenting the total of 823 traditional practitioners especially female zoes within 29 statutory and administrative district in the 5 Spotlight Counties.
The project over the year was able to ensure that at least 160 (53 females, 107 males) beneficiaries are equipped with facilitation skills and various training methodologies that have provided more enriched skills in facilitating the manual and conducting training by themselves for the wilder audience.
WANEP-Liberia program, however, enabled 160 Key project beneficiaries from ToT enhanced knowledge and have an understanding in messaging, communicating on how to develop messages and communicate to wider audiences on how to advocate for the protection of all forms of SGBV, HTs, DV, and other violations against women and girls, through awareness and sensitization utilizing basic communication strategies.
The project has enabled 240 key decision-makers (98 women and 102 men, 18 girls and 22 boys) community-driven including traditional leaders, Christians, Muslims and community youths commit themselves to serve as agents of change to extend public awareness and community sensitization to stop people from comprising crime like GBV, educate them about the referral pathway and the official reporting channel of all rape, sexual assaults and other domestic violence-related cases.
Key issues identified that trigger increase levels of SGBV, HPs, and other issues of SRHRs, which needs to be addressed by WANEP, its co-implementing partners, the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Gender, Children and Social Protection and the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia with technical and financial support from UN Women and the Spotlight Initiative Team:
WANEP-Liberia identified a Weak legal framework and huge logistical gaps in the fight against SGBV, most health facilities lacked set ups for one-stop-centers, lack of official SGBV medication and examination facilities in most counties, the retirement without replacement of the SGBV medical examiner at Saclepea Comprehensive Health Center; over crowdedness of various prison facilities and delays in the prosecution of SGBV cases, especially rape continue to increase psychosocial trauma for survivors and victims’ families, lack of livelihoods and psychosocial support to SGBV survivors and constant request of Hygienic materials as major challenges against SGBV.
WANEP-Liberia expressed gratitude to the European Union for generously supporting the Spotlight Initiatives in Liberia through the UN Women, and all other collaborating partners for the implementation of Pillar -3 of the Spotlight Initiatives.